Through his dynamic, clashing figures, Cleon Peterson’s chaotic and violent paintings explore the struggle between power and submission in contemporary society. His paintings contain a striking visual aesthetic and dive into complex and relevant issues in our world today. His works are also rooted in Western cultural history – references are made to classic Greco-Roman vases depicting warriors and battles, Caravaggio and Goya.
Peterson’s aesthetic is rooted in graphic design, depicting a world in which people search for escape in shallow pleasures through violence, sex, and drugs. Himself a former drug addict, Peterson also adds an autobiographical element to his works. This is his reality, and the stories told through his paintings touch on other, very real, events such as police brutality and current wars. The world he portrays presents hostility and violence as senseless and without context.
Born in Seattle in 1973, Peterson received his BFA in Graphic Design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and his MFA at The Cranbrook Academy. Peterson was part of the Lasco Project at the Palais de Tokyo in 2017. Solo exhibitions include Blood & Soil at Over the Influence in LA (2018), INFLUENTIAL – GROUP SHOW at Over the Influence in Hong Kong (2016) and Poison – A Solo Exhibition By Cleon Peterson at Library Street Collective, Detroit.